Cover image for Roadside crosses in contemporary memorial culture
Roadside crosses in contemporary memorial culture
Everett, Holly J., 1968-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Denton, Tex. : University of North Texas Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 145 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Memorial culture : the material response to loss -- The cross-cultural roadside cross -- Roadside memorial case studies -- Bereavement made manifest -- Cross connections, social meanings.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CC305 .E84 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A fifteen-year-old high school cheerleader is killed while driving on a dangerous curve one afternoon. By that night, her classmates have erected a roadside cross decorated with silk flowers, not as a grim warning, but as a loving memorial.

In this study of roadside crosses, the first of its kind, Holly Everett presents the history of these unique commemoratives and their relationship to contemporary memorial culture. The meaning of these markers is presented in the words of grieving parents, high school students, public officials, and private individuals whom the author interviewed during her fieldwork in Texas.

Everett documents over thirty-five memorial sites with twenty-five photographs representing the wide range of creativity. Examining the complex interplay of politics, culture, and belief, she emphasizes the importance of religious expression in everyday life and analyzes responses to death that this tradition. Roadside crosses are a meeting place for communication, remembrance, and reflection, embodying on-going relationships between the living and the dead. They are a bridge between personal and communal pain--and one of the oldest forms of memorial culture.

Scholars in folklore, American studies, cultural geography, cultural/social history, and material culture studies will be especially interested in this study.

Author Notes

Holly Everett lived in Texas for twenty-eight years before moving to Newfoundland, Canada, where she is presently a doctoral candidate and Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Everyone sees them-roadside shrines that are spontaneously erected to commemorate a highway death or fatal accident. In this short but perceptive academic study, Everett outlines the multiple purposes of erecting a roadside shrine: it helps friends, relatives and strangers cope with their sudden loss; serves as a meeting place for the bereft; calls public attention to the death; and communicates a "grim warning" to other motorists. Everett's study is narrow; she examines only Christian artifacts and shrines, and her primary research was conducted entirely in Texas. However, as she notes, there is a certain universality to these roadside memorials, which spring up all across the country with a ghostly familiarity. Everett's book will be esteemed by academics and folklorists who specialize in material culture, but also by general readers who are able to look beyond scholarly references. Twenty-five b&w photos demonstrate some of the crosses and shrines discussed in the book. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vi
Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. viii
Chapter 1 Memorial Culture: The Material Response to Lossp. 1
Chapter 2 The Cross-cultural Roadside Crossp. 15
Chapter 3 Roadside Memorial Case Studiesp. 38
Chapter 4 Bereavement Made Manifestp. 81
Chapter 5 Cross Connections, Social Meaningsp. 101
Notesp. 121
Bibliographyp. 127
Indexp. 139